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Deckhand Blues


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Description
When I was in college back in the eighteen, er, ... nineteen seventies, I worked for two summers on a Great Lakes iron ore boat. Same kinda boat as sung about in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This song comes from that experience. Lotsa to say about that, but I 'll let the song speak for itself.

Disclaimers: mixed on headphones, and beware breathy vocal pops (gotta get a pop filter!)
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Lyrics
Deckhand Blues

On a trestle overlooking Superior’s north shore
There’s a train rainin’ down a curtain of red Mesabi ore
Fillin’ up the hatches of a thousand foot-long boat
Now they trim her off, hose down the deck, she’s full, that’s all she wrote

Outta Silver Bay we’ll be headin’ south to the Indiana Mills
I can smell the wood smoke risin’ from beyond those Sawtooth Hills
Now its been a year since I said goodbye to my folks in West Duluth
Got the too-long-gone-on-a-steamboat Great Lakes deckhand blues

Deckhand blues
From crown of this dirty old hard hat
To the bottoms of my steel-toed shoes
Deckhand blues
The harbor lights keep beckoning bright,
But we’re only just passing through

Four days down to Gary and the burnin’ steel mill stacks
Through the sulphur haze, and the twelve hours days it’s my poor aching back
Cleaning struts and breathing dust, and my body feels abused
Got these too-long-gone-on-a-steamboat Great Lakes deckhand blues

Deckhand blues
Saturday nights when you can’t stop thinkin’
What your baby might be up to
Deckhand blues
She’ll be down at the dock ‘round 12 o’clock
But only if your dreams come true

Make way on the ladder ‘cuz the cook’s a little fatter and the mate’s not far behind
If we hurry we can make it, there’s a bar on the corner, gotta an hour till closing time

Just a small pond sailor, ‘bout the only job I’ve ever known
The money’s good but I worry about the girl that I left back home
If there ain’t a letter waitin’ for me at the Soo Locks headin’ down
I know a place to drown my sorrows if we ever get a trip to town

Deckhand Blues
Drinkin’ beers and bumps with the hookers and chumps
On the hard luck avenue
Deckhand blues
Now my head is reelin’ got a homesick feelin,
And I can’t stop thinking of you


Song Stats
Hits: 2354
Comments: 38
Fans: 24
Plays: 110
Downloads: 47

Uploaded: Jan 21, 2012 - 01:08:29 AM
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2012 - 01:08:29 AM Last Played: Mar 22, 2017 - 03:48:44 AM
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Creative Commons License:
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Comments
PeterB7858 said 1894 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Understated musical delight
Understated musical delight, John. Really like the guitar/banjo pan and the sparse arrangement. Your vocal work is a delight as always, especially the harmonies, and then the mando comes in at just the right time at the end. Classic JW! Don't worry about an slight recording imperfections on the vocals, you would sound good to me on a warped cassette :-) Much enjoyed, and thanks for the D/L. Take care, Peter.
Check out my latest song called Dancing In The Rain
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
delight
Thanks for the listen and comments, Peter.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
hackneybloke said 1894 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
deckhand blues
your lyrics blow me away - you paint such vivid pictures....with economy and precision - it makes your songs soar. you sing with a gentle melancholic tone....i think you're doing it naturally....it further assists to transport the listener to wherever it is you happen to be singing about. your vocal assured and easy as always, nicely interlaced with that easy country backdrop that you do so perfectly. really excellent song john. deep bows etc.
Check out my latest song called If Symptoms Persist
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Blues
Great to see your face and comment, Julian. Lyrics-wise, I was writing what I know--always a good start for me. Thanks for the listen.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
Philip18 said 1894 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Deckhand blues
Lovely tone to the introductory guitar. Warm and evocative vocal. Beautiful melody line. Tasteful banjo. Sweet harmonies. Interesting lyrics. Stunningly good music, John. Thanks for the download!
Check out my latest song called Reverie
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Deckhand
Lovely to see all my folkie pals in the house. Thanks for the kind comments, Phillip.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
alackbass said 1894 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Story telling through song as good or better than I've ever heard! Too good not to have on my iPod! Downloaded!
Check out my latest song called Mean Miss Teacher
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Story
Thanks for listening and commenting, Andrew. Much obliged.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
richard13 said 1894 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Excellent!
Best folk song I've heard in ages, since the eighteen, er,... nineteen seventies, at least ;-) Very evocative: I can picture you sitting in your bunk after your shift, working on the rhythms and rhymes.
Check out my latest song called afternoon in heaven
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Blues
Thanks for taking time to listen and comment, Richard. Means a lot to me.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
Bass3x said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Fabulous!
Nicely done, john. Fine folk fare!
Check out my latest song called Playa Linda
johnwhitehead said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Fab
Muchas gracias, Mr. Bass3x. Thanks for the nod.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
DWL said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Classy work John
Why aren't you famous?

Cheers

Dick

Check out my latest song called Jolly England
gadzooks said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
First of all excellent lyrics and vocals and harmonies! I wouldn't get to hung up on the the pops ... It makes it feel alive. This is so real and refreshing. Like the banjo and the mandolin. Clear and clean mix. This is a wonderful song that brings me back to summer folk festivals and warm evenings by the stage.
Cheers
SG
Check out my latest song called Emoji
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Blues
Thanks for the listen and feedback, Stan. I appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
TvRicky said 1893 days ago (January 21st, 2012)
Vocal and musical magic
Mix is so well done on this a magnificent musical offering. This piece is speaking volumes of your originality and feel for The 'people'. I am truly entertained by the focus and professionalism presented here. Just Wonderful composition my man!

A SincerelyZipped, TvRicky
Check out my latest song called Trane's Eastern Groove
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Thanks
...for the comment. Suprised you have time to stop...you're posting tunes non-stop it seems. Keep up the good work.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
timothydevine2 said 1893 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
amazing you member the 70s john
What a clean recording.
So 70s
What i dig about this recording is the sweetness in the vox harmony, and also the simple approach to the instrumentation focusing the listener on the lyric.
Good lyric, I feel like l got what you got from those summers. Did you stay out on the Lake all summer?
Great music my friend. Great Tune.
Peace
tm

Check out my latest song called Hit the Highway
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
70's
Been trying to work on harmonies, so thanks for mentioning them.
I did stay on the lakes the whole summer of '76 and most of summer '77.
It was a unique vantage point. Many times you were in sight of land so there was lots to see. You could look but not touch...so it was lonely, too. Thus the melancholy vibe of the song.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
snowdragon said 1893 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Excellent tune
As someone who grew up on Lake Ontario, I can relate.

Nicely done

Check out my latest song called Nightmares
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Tune
Another midwesterner. Good on ya. Thanks for the listen.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
FEEL said 1893 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Nice composition
Very pro sounding and I like the way the vocals and guitar compliment each other. Great job building on it further into the song. Thuroughly enjoyed.
Check out my latest song called Not Just Your Best Friend (unplugged)
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Composition
Cheers, Feel, Many thanks for remarks.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
Mosaica said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Just passing through....
...and stopped in to listen to this. This is as good as any professional folk song I've heard, great storytelling lyric, lovely bright guitar.
Check out my latest song called Repercussion
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Passing through
So glad you stopped by. And glad you liked the tunes. Cheers.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
jibes said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Growing up in Minnesota I can relate. I am very impressed by your writing and playing.
Check out my latest song called JESSICA
Daugrin said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Ahroo!
Good to hear your new tune John. Thanks for sharing with us!
Check out my latest song called Clearing in the Forrest of Feeling
johnwhitehead said 1892 days ago (January 22nd, 2012)
Achoo!
Dawg....great to see you in print. Thanks for the listen, bud.
Check out my latest song called Wandering Blues
neilh79 said 1891 days ago (January 24th, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Wow what a great tune, just sublime
dave_b said 1891 days ago (January 24th, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Strong & memorable imagery in the lyric. Understated vocals bring out the emotion in the wistful lyric well. Enjoyable harmonies. Strong picking.
Check out my latest song called Llarions Blues
TommyBlueBoy said 1890 days ago (January 25th, 2012)
Good Song!
John, I really like this song. It has a nice melody and the harmony is spot on. I grew up on Lake Michigan, so this brings back lots of memories.
Check out my latest song called Needs Some Love
ShadowofNine said 1890 days ago (January 25th, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Fabulous song, performance,and composition, Bravi..
Check out my latest song called Gone (with Eagle)
tempie said 1889 days ago (January 26th, 2012)
boss
this is so good it near brought tears to my eyes. i mean its GOOD. but you no doubt know that. the lyrics are tops. love the detail and the place names. It does have a gord feel but it's all yours. i'd play a CD of yours every Sunday morning, and to make it into the thomas household Sunday morning rotation is a high honor. thanks for the DL!
Check out my latest song called Summer Song
Soundhound said 1887 days ago (January 27th, 2012)
This is something....
LightFoot would do, but not really a Blues more like BlueGrass.....
The sadness of the song, and truth in real time about riding out in
the middle of nowhere on one of those things, always looking for
a big waves that could take you out.....
Guess one would stay sad most of the time........So it's a blues for sure
the Music is just along for the ride.....

Nicely done.......

Check out my latest song called Melded Universe....
gcjjones said 1886 days ago (January 28th, 2012)
Deckhand Blues
Very nice, great lyrics.
Check out my latest song called Home
SJB said 1881 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
fab
Such a good song and recorded so well - a really clean mix with everything in it's own space. Really enjoyed this one. It's nice to hear about another aspect of sailing the Lakes in addition to iron ore ships being wrecked when the witch of November comes a stealin'. Is the picture one of the Edmund Fitzgerald?
Cheers
Steve
Steve
Check out my latest song called Harm(less)onics to Fade
Doug Somers said 1881 days ago (February 2nd, 2012)
Great Lake Story
If you sang in a lower register I'd say this was a Garnet Rogers song. It's beautiful John. Vivid story in your lyrics, playing is perfect for the song and your voice rings true.

Off to hear more of your work.

Thanks,
Doug
Check out my latest song called Coming Home - Based on a Theme by David Kneupper
Bob Rodgers said 1803 days ago (April 20th, 2012)
Great
lyrics and vocals, a lovely warm tone to your voice that I enjoyed very much.
Love the banjo and your vocal harmonies.
Great song writing, very much enjoyed.

Bob
Check out my latest song called The Lonely Man
Artist Info
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Name: John Whitehead
Location: Saint Paul MN United States
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I've been singing and playing since the age of fourteen when my brother Paul was working his way through the Beatle book and needed someone to play with. From Paul I learned to fingerpick, play barre chords, and to sing the melody while he sang harmo... [see more]

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